The Gulf Coast contains rich and varied ecosystems, from pine savanna to open marsh. The Refuges in this region are critical to preserving habitat and resources for resident and migratory wildlife.
Despite the importance of this area, we don't know much about the phenology of Southeast plants. The Gulf Coast Phenology Trail seeks to better understand the phenology of focal species in this region, and how these species respond to a changing climate. For example, with a better understanding of the timing of leafing of invasive Chinese tallow - which is also when the majority of its resources are in its leaves rather than in the ground - managers can determine the best time to treat an area with prescribed fire. We can also gain increased knowledge about unique species, such as pitcher plants and how the timing of their flowering relates to fires.
We are currently in the development stages of the Gulf Coast Phenology Trail. At the beginning of 2017, we started selecting monitoring locations, tagging plants and deciding on animal checklists, and training volunteers in monitoring.
We seek to encourage people to engage in outdoor education, ask and answer local science management and climate change questions, and connect organizations together through a shared community monitoring project.
1. Does phenology of native Gulf Coast plants change over time under changing climates?
2. Does phenology of Gulf Coast plants differ between native and non-native plants?
3. Does the phenology of native plant pollinators match native plant phenology over time under changing climate?
4. Is there an East-West gradient in the timing of phenology of certain focal species, from Louisiana to Alabama?
1. What is the variation in phenology in similar habitats across the Trail?
2. Does phenology of focal species differ between areas that have been disturbed by fire, storm, etc. and those that have not?
3. How is the arrival and departure of migrating animals, such as purple martin, shifting in response to a changing climate?
Trees: Red Maple, Longleaf pine, Slash Pine, Sweet Bay
Shrubs: Red bay, Wax Myrtle, Yaupon holly, Hibiscus
Herbs: Pitcher Plants, Thistles, Milkweeds, Bog Meadow Beauty, Spartina/marsh plants, Orchids
Grasses: Toothache grass, Little bluestem, Wire grass
Invasives: Chinese Tallow Tree, Cogon Grass, Phragmites
Animals: Purple martins, butterflies, osprey, bluebirds
- Grand Bay NERR
- Grand Bay NWR
- Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR
- Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex
- Big Branch Marsh NWR
- Bayou Sauvage NWR
- Crosby Arboretum
- Pascagoula River Audubon Center
- Barataria Preserve, Jean Lafitte NHPP
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Gautier Campus
- USA National Phenology Network
Meet our new Gulf Coast Phenology Trail Coordinator
Gail Bishop has called Ocean Springs home since 1986 although she has also lived in Florida, Alabama, and Kentucky. She retired from the National Park Service as a superintendent but spent much of her career in interpretation and education. She has volunteered for Habitat Stewards, Audubon, the NPS, and for the Gulf Coast Phenology Trail. She loves the northern Gulf Coast and appreciates the work that volunteers do to protect the natural resources.
Contact Gail at GulfCoastPhenologyTrail@gmail.com.
Want to be a part of the Gulf Coast Phenology Trail? We are seeking motivated volunteer phenology observers and interested Partner Organizations to join this effort.
Contact Trail Coordinator Gail Bishop at GulfCoastPhenologyTrail@gmail.com